I'm cooking like a crazy person. So much so that it is now necessary to create a page entirely devoted to my kitchen concoctions. Here's the how-to collection of easy breezy Mel-mess style dinners, desserts and more!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins!
(2 ingredients, 30 minutes or less)
I found this recipe while blog browsing on Adventures in my Kitchen, which I highly recommend checking out if you like great food with a healthy twist. It seemed easy enough, so I tried it out. Here are the results...

The recipe was a breeze.

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Mix Pumpkin and cake mix in a bowl (I used Cinnamon Streusel mix with little cinnamon chunks, DELISH!)
  • Dole out a spoonful of mix into each muffin tray
  • Bake for about 23 minutes
  • ENJOY!
 The clean up, however was not the quickest process...

Stuffed Quinoa Peppers
(So easy even I could make them without burning something!)
Another killer recipe from the tasty stylings of Susan's Adventures in my Kitchen. The peppers took all of 15 minutes to make and tasted like they took 50. I actually impressed myself!

How to you make it...
  • boil a pot of water
  • cut the top off your pepper, de-seed and wash it out
  • boil pepper to your taste

Simultaneously with above steps...

  • mix 1/2 cup quinoa (I used red quinoa but you can use any kind), 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup chicken broth in a pot
  • simmer mixture on the stove for about 15 minutes
  • remove from heat and stir; let sit for a few minutes until you see the quinoa tails start to waggle, then its done

Next, stuff your pepper!

  • add one spoonful of quinoa followed by one pinch of parmesan cheese (I used a parmesan and mozzarella mix-yum!)
  • repeat spoon, pinch until pepper is STUFFED!
  • take pictures of your creation for posting to blog, and enjoy
Voila, Quinoa Stuffed Peppers!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing
(Healthy and from scratch...mostly)
This recipe from is nothing less than decadent and will satisfy even the worst chocolate craving-it tackled mine!

You need...

  • 18.25 oz Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1.4 oz sugar free, fat free, instant chocolate pudding (the power kind in the Jello box)
  • 1 cup of pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/3 cups water
Chocolate Icing:
  • confectioners sugar
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • milk (skim or 1%)
  • vanilla extract
  • salt
How to make it...
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease or line muffin tins
  2. Mix pumpkin and water in a mixing bowl until smooth; add pudding mix and continue to beat until creamy
  3. Add chocolate cake mix and stir or beat until all the cake globs are gone
  4. Spoon goop into muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes
  5. Make the icing in the meantime by combining 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar, 1 tbsp cocoa and a pinch of salt (or any multiple of these proportions) 
  6. Stir 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract into the mix and 1 tbsp of milk
  7. Wisk ingredients with a fork until creamy and multiply mixture as needed
  8. Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes
  9. Drizzle icing over top of cakes
  10. If your icing is too creamy as mine was, pop into fridge for an hour or two
Bon Appetit!

Taco Salad
(The original recipe and leftover re-inventions)

Start by crumpling tin-foil into a big half circle with a flat bottom. Place the flat side onto a cooking sheet and lay a tortilla on top of the curved side. Pop the pan in the over on 400* for about 3-4 minutes to make the taco shell.

While the shell is cooking, mix 1 can black beans, 1 can gorbonzo beans, 1 small can of green diced chilies, about 2 tablespoons of salsa, some chopped tomatoes (anything else you have in your kitchen, maybe some avocado!) and about a tablespoon of italian dressing in a big bowl. 

Take the taco shell out and let cool for just a minute. Line the bowl bottom with some greens, pour your bean mix on top and sprinkle some shredded cheese over it all. Ta-Da! Taco salad.

For the leftover bean mix...

Make another taco bowl.

Fry two boca burgers (or hamburgers if you are feeling carnivorous) until they are just about done. Use your spatula to cut the burgers into tiny pieces i the pan. Then pour the leftover bean mix and some shredded cheese into the pan and fry together for a few minutes (until hot).

Empty pan contents into your taco bowl and serve lunch. Leftover problem solved!

    Brie and Pear Tart
(Incredibly Easy and Tasty)

Gather together...
  • A pie tin (I bought a pre-made graham cracker pie crust, removed the crust and used the tin) 
  • Pre-made pie crust
  • 2-4 ripe pears
  • A wedge of Brie
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Butter
Preheat oven to 400*

Place the pie crust into the pie tin and press into place. If the edges of the crust hang over the edge of the tin, fold them down into the pan and press them into the dough to mold together.

Cut thin slices of brie and line the bottom of the pie crust.

Cut thin slices of pear and place them overlapping in a circle on top of the brie leaving the center open. Cut the pear slices in half and place the halves in a circle in the middle of the pie with the flat side touching the brie.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in the microwave. In a cup, mix the butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Pour the liquid mix on top of the pears.

Place pie tin on a cookie sheet and bake pie for about 30 minutes (until the juices are bubbling and the brie is melted). Remove from oven and sprinkle cinnamon on top to taste. Remove tin from cookie sheet and let cool. Serve and enjoy!

Veggie Baked Ziti
(If you can cook pasta and open a can, you can make this dinner!)

You will need:
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 large glass baking pan or 2 smaller pans
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 1 can Progresso minestrone soup
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups mixed shredded mozzarella & parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
How to make it:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water, drain and pour into large bowl
  3. Open soup and pour on top of pasta; add tomato sauce and garlic to bowl; mix well until all pasta is covered in sauce and garlic is evenly distributed throughout mix
  4. Distribute pasta mix into pan(s) evenly
  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top
  6. Bake for one full sink-load of dishes and below brownie cake preparation (about 15-20 minutes)

Almost-Guiltless Brownie Cake
(Twice as rich, half as fat)
What you need:
  • Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix from Trader Joe's
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla yougurt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coca powder
  • 1/4 cup of skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 8" pan or pie tin
  • 1 mixing bowl
How to make it:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Add brownie mix and yogurt to bowl and mix until smooth and shiny.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. Pour mix into pan (or pie tin)
  5. Bake about 20 minutes 
  6. While mix is baking, combine sugar, coca, milk, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl
  7. Stir until smooth icing forms
  8. When brownies are done, remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes
  9.  Pour icing on top of cake and spread with a knife
  10. Serve and enjoy!